(This is a true story. About two years ago a dear friend narrated this personal experience. It touched my heart. I saved it. Now I share it with you. I am sure it will touch your heart as it did mine.)

I was about 14 and growing up on a farm in Iowa. Father and I were putting up hay. My job was to take the tractor out to the alfalfa field, pick up a load of hay and bring it back to the barn. There, Father would set the grapple hook, and with the aid of Dick, our horse, lift the hay into the barn.

Our tractor was a Farmall with a huge rake sticking out in front. This placed the weight of the hay on the small front wheels.

The alfalfa field to the southwest of the barn had small gullies, perhaps two feet wide and two feet deep. Father made a special point that I should go around these gullies.
Under no circumstances was I to try to cross them.

But I was young and impatient. Sometimes father had seemed overly cautious. So I tried to cross one of the gullies. However, the small front wheels did not come out of the gully as I expected. I shifted into reverse. Again, the front wheels were stuck in the gully.

Then, before my eyes, the tractor pulled apart! The front wheels were stuck, while the tractor backed up. The side-rails, part of the very frame of the tractor, sheered off their bolts and let loose. The front twisted to the side and dropped. I was sitting on a tractor that seemed to be going down a very steep hill. The fan belt squealed as the fan chewed into the radiator. The engine died, and I sat in near-silence as steam hissed from the broken radiator.

I left the wreckage and began the longest walk of my life. I can still see the puffs of dust raised by my work-shoes. Each step carried me closer to a terrible reckoning. As I came around the barn, Father said, “Where’s the tractor?”

“It’s still in the alfalfa field,” I said, not wanting to say that it was actually “piled” in the alfalfa field. I had to
Explain. Then I waited for the judgment in my case.

In fact, I had no case. I had done the very thing I had been told specifically NOT to do. So there was no doubt about my guilt. It was complete.

Moreover, this was not just a misdemeanor. It was a major felony. We could not afford even minor repairs. This was going to be terribly costly.

Therefore, it was in fear and trembling that I stood before my Father and waited for his judgment.

He was quiet for a while, thinking. Then he looked at his watch and said quietly, “I wonder if we can get into town before the implement dealer closes?”

My case was closed. Judgment had been rendered.

To the very end of his life, this is ALL Father ever said about my terrible crime. He never mentioned it again.

I recounted this story at Father’s funeral, standing before his casket.

Somehow the story wasn’t complete.

I paused, waiting for something I felt was missing. After a pause, it came to me: “And now Father faces his time of reckoning. I pray that he will be judged with the same compassion as he judged me.

Wendell Mott
January 23, 2010